BASKETBALL ROUNDUP

E. Roosevelt Girls, Laurel Boys Triumph

By Josh Barr and Dave Yanovitz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 28, 2008

The fourth-ranked Laurel boys' basketball team finally might be shedding the label that it peaks too early in the season. Senior center Will Alston scored 19 points and snared eight rebounds last night as the Spartans sent fifth-ranked Gwynn Park to its first loss, 57-50, in the Prince George's County championship game before 3,500 at Wise High in Upper Marlboro.

In the preceding girls' county championship game, three-time defending Maryland 4A champion Eleanor Roosevelt earned its first county title. Junior center Olivia Applewhite finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead the No. 7 Raiders to a 74-61 victory over No. 14 Largo, snapping the Lions' 15-game winning streak.

"It's good to win, but I really don't like to put an emphasis on this game," Roosevelt Coach Rod Hairston said. "I don't want to use up their energy to win this game and then go into the playoffs lackluster."

While Laurel Coach Keith Coutreyer also played down the significance of the victory, there was little questioning its importance for the Spartans (19-2). They have had several strong starts in recent years only to fade late and exit early from the playoffs. This season, Laurel led the Prince George's 4A from start to finish; Coutreyer was unsure if it was the Spartans' first championship of any kind since the 1980 team won the state title.

"In the past, we played off one player and if he was not doing good, we could fall," said senior guard Reggie Young, a four-year varsity player who was on one of three Laurel players in double figures last night, with 12 points. "This year, everybody can play."

And everybody can rebound. The 6-foot-6 Alston, who started his high school career at Montrose Christian and played at Spalding last year, led the way, but Young, Killian Azah and Marcus Hebron also contributed. "They killed us on the boards," said Gwynn Park Coach Mike Glick, whose team fell to 22-1.

In the girls' game, Eleanor Roosevelt (18-2) excelled at getting the ball inside to Applewhite and others. Forwards Ahjah Hall and Chantel Petty had 16 and 12 points, respectively, while guard Elashier Hall added 12 points. The Raiders scored nearly all of their points in the paint, attempting just two three-point shots.

Long Reach Wins

Five weeks ago, Long Reach suffered the worst loss in the school's 11-year history, a 30-point shellacking at the hands of Atholton. Last night in the Howard County boys' championship, the Lightning made sure it wasn't struck twice.

Deon Queen, a sharpshooting guard who transferred from Chesapeake for his senior year, scored a team-high 17 points, and visiting Long Reach went on a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter en route to a 60-56 victory.

Queen got hot in the second quarter, when Long Reach (20-2) trailed by five. He scored nine of Long Reach's 11 points during one stretch in the period, and the Lightning only trailed 31-29 at halftime.

With the score tied at 48 in the fourth, senior Steve Bell (10 points) hit a three-pointer, then converted a fast-break layup following a turnover for a five-point lead. Long Reach upped the lead to nine when 6-4 forward Julius Fambro (9 points, 6 rebounds) scored on a tip in and then a jumper off his own rebound.

"We didn't want to leave out with a loss," Queen said. "At the time [of the Atholton loss] we had a 30-game home winning streak. Coach just kept preaching defense, defense, defense. [The coaches] stayed on us, and we dug down."

Senior forward Deyon Cook led the Raiders (18-5) with 18 points. Atholton's bruiser in the middle, 6-5 forward Anthony Jones, added 16, including a thunderous one-handed dunk in the second quarter that brought the crowd to life.


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